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phyllis diller flickr

If you’re a comedy fan, you probably already love the late Phyllis Diller. Her standup career not only influenced many of the funny women working today, but also launched future entertainment giants like Lorne Michaels and Barbra Streisand. Diller was a true original, and now, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is archiving her jokes – over 50,000 of them. Housed in a steel filing cabinet, her hand-typed index cards were scanned and placed online on March 1, and now a veritable army of online volunteers is helping transcribe them into a searchable digital format. “Looking at the gag file from afar is impressive,” says NMAH Project Assistant, Hanna BredenbeckCorp, “but it’s not until you really get in there and flip through the jokes that the magnitude of Diller’s career can really be understood.” Get involved at americanhistory.si.edu.

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BY BRANDY BARBER

PHOTO: SMITHSONIAN (FILE)

Top photo: Jeff Tidwell, Flickr

This article originally appeared in the August/September 2017 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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